The U.S. Senate gave final approval to a measure by Senator Mark Pryor that allows consumers to continue buying and using popular pocketknives and utility knives in the United States. The provision was part of the Fiscal Year 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which now heads to the President's desk for his signature.
Pryor said U.S. Customs and Border Patrol missed the mark in May 2009 when it reinterpreted an outdated statute regulating imports of certain pocketknives and utility knives. He argued that pocketknives should be exempt from the switchblade ban of 1958 when they contain a spring mechanism designed to create a bias toward closure of the blade. He worked closely with homeland security and customs officials to forge a compromise that allows these pocketknives to be imported to the U.S. and also provides a consistent standard for the entry of knives with spring-assisted mechanisms. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) were also sponsors of the measure.
"Customs and Border Patrol missed the mark with their interpretation, inadvertently banning ordinary pocketknives. In Arkansas, I heard from firemen, construction workers, farmers, policemen, electricians, hunters and fishermen who all took notice. A pocketknife for many people can serve as an entire toolbox, and the government really has no business taking that away from them," Pryor said. "I'm pleased we could prevent this unreasonable ban from advancing."
The measure protects consumers' right to use pocketknives, and also ensures that small businesses which sell pocketknives will not see their inventories wiped out or their sales plummet. Under the Customs and Border Control interpretation, eighty percent of U.S. knives sold in the past 5 years would have been considered illegal. According to the American Knife and Tool Industry, as many as 20,000 related jobs could be impacted in the U.S.
"Very active support came from Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor and his capable staff, as well as many other federal lawmakers, in making a change to the 1958 Switchblade Act that will clearly protect the rights of more than 35 million knife owners and users to carry the folding knives that are important tools in their everyday lives," claims Goldie Russell, President of A.G. Russell Knives, Rogers, AR and President of the American Knife & Tool Institute.
This measure is endorsed by the American Knife and Tool Institute and its more than 60 member companies, Knife Rights, National Rifle Association, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Gun Owners of America, and the Knifemakers' Guild.